System Breaker, a German film


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


I hate you, all! Benni (Helena Zengel) in “System Crasher”. Photograph courtesy

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THE HORROR OF being a small child beset with enormous flaws is something that many a writer may attempt to portray because of the challenge of capturing its profound complexity that scoops up the contradictions of being human and holds it tight. Not every writer can succeed. Nor every performer. But when you see Helena Zengel, a child performer born in 2008, in the hands of director Nora Fingscheidt in System Crasher, you will be in awe. This German-language film with English subtitles is part of the 2019 Eurofilm Festival being screened in several South African venues from the end of November.

It’s here where you meet Benni. She’s just nine years old – or nine and three quarters, to be precise – and of fair complexion and distinctive feistiness. She has been abandoned by not only her flighty young mum who goes through bad boyfriends with airy rapidity, but also the…

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